Search

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Book announcement: For Prophet and Tsar

Robert D. Crews has just published For Prophet and Tsar: Islam and Empire in Russia and Central Asia (Harvard, 480 pp, ISBN 0-674-02164-9, $29.95/£19.95).

As the Economist review of the book (illustrated with this photo of Alexander Dugin’s fellow Eurasian, Mufti Talgat Tajuddin, and another famous Russian) notes:

Mr Crews's research . . . is of huge relevance to the present day. . . From the state's point of view, there is a dilemma: how far can the compact with Orthodoxy go without precluding a similar one with the Russian Federation's 15m or so Muslim subjects?

The idea of some entente between modern Russian nationalism and Russian Muslims is not as absurd as it seems. Among the ideologues of neo-nationalism in Russia, there have been several figures of Muslim-Tatar background who subscribe to the ideal of a Eurasian or "Slavic-Turkic" union—roughly coinciding with the Soviet Union—whose common enemy is global, or Anglo-Saxon, capitalism.

I’m delighted that the Economist has noticed the importance of Eurasianism. But, to judge from the index at least, none of these important developments feature Dr Crews’s book.

Paper announcement: The International Ramifications of the Thought of Seyyed Hossein Nasr

One of the organizers of the Sixth Biennial Conference on Iranian Studies asked me to contribute a paper on "The International Ramifications of the Thought of Seyyed Hossein Nasr," which I will be doing at SOAS in London on August 4. The panel is entitled "Influence of Iranian Religious Thought Outside Iran," and also features papers on "Ali Shariati in South Africa" and "(Still) Exporting The Iranian Revolution." Who is missing? Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, perhaps... Unusual company for Dr Nasr to keep, but in some ways appropriate.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Traditionalists.org relaunched!

Traditionalists.org has just been relaunched with a new structure and a new look.
  • The biggest change is that the contents of the Catalog of Contemporary Traditionalism are now available directly, without having to interrogate a database that was often not available for techncal reasons. Access to the database is still possible (if it is working!) via a Custom Search option.
  • I would like to thank William Jon Hummel, my student assistant at AUC during Spring 2006, for all the effort and dedication he has put in to the new site, and also for updating the Catalog.
  • This is the third incarnation of Traditionalists.org, which was first launched in June 2000. Or perhaps it is the fourth--the site started by accident when a paper I gave at a conference in Oslo in August 1998 was put on the web by the conference organizers, and I found that people were using the appendix to that paper as an internet guide to Traditionalism. That made me think that a proper site was needed, and gave rise to Traditionalists.org. The paper is still there, but a lot of other things have changed since 1998.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Book announcement: Guénon's wider influence in France


Xavier Accart has published Guénon ou le renversement des clartés : Influence d’un métaphysicien sur la vie littéraire et intellectuelle française (1920-1970) (Paris: Edidit; - Milan: Archè, 2005; 1222 p. ISBN: 2-912770-03-3).

This study of the influence of René Guénon on French literary circles fills a gap in the history provided by my own Against the Modern World. Dr Accart noted this gap in his review of my book in ARIES (vol. 6, no. 1, 2006, pp. 98-105); he knows this subject better than anyone else, and the book (originally a PhD dissertation at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris) is strongly recommended.

Queneau, Artaud, Gide, Paulhan, Daumal, Bosco, Drieu La Rochelle, Pauwels, Daniel Halévy, Léon Daudet, Jean Grenier, Simone Weil... autant d'écrivains qui lurent passionnément l'œuvre de René Guénon (1886-1951). La présente étude établit que l'initiateur de la pensée "traditionnelle" a exercé sur ses contemporains une influence beaucoup plus profonde et étendue qu'on ne l'avait d'abord cru ; elle tente d'expliquer ce phénomène paradoxal : comment une œuvre aussi étrangère au monde intellectuel de son temps a-t-elle pu le marquer à ce point.

Loin d'être seulement due à sa critique de la modernité, l'audience de Guénon eut pour principal ressort sa vision de l'Universalité. D'une part, l'idée d'une connaissance suprarationnelle marqua profondément de jeunes écrivains, las du divorce entre les mots et les choses et assoiffés d'expérience. D'autre part, la présentation des doctrines spirituelles de l'Inde et de l'Islam, ainsi que l'affirmation de leur identité foncière avec celle du christianisme, ont fait apparaître ce métaphysicien comme un passeur entre les mondes, un artisan de paix entre des peuples qui se haïssaient faute de se connaître.

Cette enquête, à laquelle les grands événements du siècle passé donnent un caractère dramatique, restitue une veine de l'histoire littéraire française à la fois méconnue et déterminante. Ce faisant, elle met en évidence les préoccupations spirituelles - généralement ignorées - d'écrivains de premier plan. Fruit de dix années de recherche, elle contribue également à éclairer les étapes du développement de l'œuvre de Guénon et sa stratégie
éditoriale, de ses années parisiennes à sa retraite du Caire.